The story behind “Winner,Winner,Chicken Dinner”

Photo Credit : Bari Demers

In the past week I received messages in regards to the meaning of, ” Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!”  

For the younger generation, it just dawned on me, the term, “Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! ” is not necessarily understood. Unless, of course, they did a Google search.

So, let me tell you a little story :  

When I was eight years old my father would come home from his vacation in Las Vegas and would either say,” Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!” Or he would come home, saying,” Dammit! Caesars Palace and the bank owns our home again!” 

At such an impressional age of only eight, my curiosity got the best of me, so I had to ask my father why he was so happy winning a chicken dinner? 

BUT – 

Noticing the mood change from very happy to outright mad, being the happiest when he said,” Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!” I thought it best to ask him questions when he was in his happiest mood.

SO – 

One day, my father came home, “happier than a pig in mud” bellowing out those happy words,” Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!” throwing a wad of hard cold cash onto his bed. I knew the time was right to ask him my burning question, knowing all too well,”curiosity killed the cat” could end me in serious trouble. My dad’s moods were fickle, to say the least. Say the wrong think at the wrong time, could lead you to a serious swat in the head. Basically us kids were walking on thin ice when my dad was in one of his bad moods. I believe I took most of his brute force, as I would always question his authority on a regular basis. 

But, today was a good day, he was happier than a pig in mud! 

ARIA Resort & Casino. Photo Credit : Bari Demers

Playing with my favourite GI Joe toy, pretending this military Super Star was scouting ahead in the midst of all this hard cold cash, was the only time I was allowed near any of my dad’s monies. My dad was busy emptying his suitcase.

I knew the time was now or never.  

My little heart was racing, as I mustered up the courage and said,” Dad…?”
Paying little attention to me, you could see his mind was else where. I’m sure he was thinking more about what he could do with all that cash! 

So, I asked him again,”Dad…?” 

He looked at me with his cold steely eyes,”Yes! Yes! What is it?!” As if I was just bugging him. 

I took a deep breath and said,” Dad…Why are you so happy when you win a chicken dinner? I mean…after all…we have chicken dinners here every Thursday night…”  I waited patiently, as my dad thought of me as more of a nuisance, than his son.   

Suddenly he stopped.

I tensed up ready for whatever came my way, even closing my eyes.  
My dad sat on the end of the bed and told me to sit beside him. He was a mean son-a-bitch, so it took all of my will power to sit beside someone who’s temper was extremely volatile.  

Quietly, I sat beside him, unknown of his next move. 

He grabbed his cigarettes from his front pocket, pulled out one and lite it. 
Took a deep breath and said,” Son…Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner simply means I won the Jackpot… My God! Where have you been all your life? Don’t they teach you anything in school?!”

I cast my eyes low to the ground, as if respecting the primal anarchy, waiting for whatever was going to happen next.  

My dad took another puff of his cigarette. He could see I was asking a perfectly reasonable question. Giving a deep sign, he said,” Ok, listen…because I won’t repeat myself!”

I nodded.

My dad proceeded to tell me the reason for,” Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!” He told me, in Las Vegas a chicken dinner would cost around $2 dollars. In Vegas, you could place a minimum bet of $2 dollar. So, when you won $2 you were sure to win a $2 Chicken Dinner!

The Shards of Color Photo Credit: Bari Demers

[Read more about the Shards of Color at CityCenter, Las Vegas ]

In my family, I’ve heard so many times of my uncle betting on the horse races, so I had an idea what betting was all about. It was also clear my dad won a lot more then two dollars, so I quickly understood it’s more of a saying then anything. 

My dad concluded, ” Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner simply means I won the jackpot. It also means there’s more food in the house this month. Do you get it?! ” 

I nodded. 

My little imagination took off like wildfire. I could see this wizzical magic place called,” Las Vegas” ! At such a young age, I could only refer it to the famous, ” Wizard of Oz” But, it was a real place for everyone including my dad and uncle. I knew when I was old enough, I had to see this Wizard of Oz place called LAS VEGAS! 

Wish YOU were here in Las Vegas ! Photo by Bari Demers
Join us Vegas Lovers 

Years later…

A few years after my third visit to Las Vegas, you can imagine how surprised I was to see the actual theme of the brand new resort, the MGM Grand, displaying the Wizard of Oz !   I grinned ear to ear, realizing this was some sort of “good” karma.  

MGM Grand Las Vegas – Theme “Wizard of Oz”

[Read more about the good old days...]

In all, Las Vegas not only has good memories, but I quickly understood from past experiences with my dad, how Vegas could be your friend or how it could end up being a problem. The very fact, Caesars Palace could own your house through betting up a lean against your home stuck in my head since I was eight years old. It was a clear reminder to play poker, blackjack or the slot machines within your financial budget. This is why I always hold fast to my budget.  

I believe Mr Steve Wynn had a similar experience with his dad. 

Just realize in the end, winnings in Las Vegas are left to the experts and when you do win in Vegas, just remember it, as nothing more than a form of FUN entertainment. Unless of course you so happen to win millions of dollars, only then can you call it a lucky lottery.  

So, I hope your vacation in Vegas is a FUN and LUCKY experience and may you one day yell out,”Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner! 

See YOU in Vegas !  

Come on by and join us Vegas Lovers in the “just for fun” Facebook Page geared for Vegas Lovers and newcomers heading for their very first vacation in the adult version of The Wizard of Oz land known as Las Vegas. 

By Bari Demers –freelance writer and scifi screenwriter 

Vegas – The Good Old Days! 

MGM Grand, Las Vegas 1996 Photo Credit: Bari Demers

Happy Throwback Thursday Everyone!  

Today I like to take you on a journey, way back to the 1980’s. During a time when Las Vegas use to be more colorful, should we say?  

Remember the good old days?

When going to Las Vegas meant good times in the casino and actually going home with cash in your pocket? Well, those days are becoming few and far in between. You still hear of a few winning the jackpot, but today was never like the good old days.

Even MGM International Resorts and Wynn Resorts Limited are changing their tune to better accommodate patrons. It’s true. Not all vacationers are flocking to the casinos like they use to. To reflect those changes, Vegas Resorts are going for pure luxury, from poolside oasis to mega Superstar concerts, while reaching out to family oriented vacationers, hoping to cash in on another form of revenue. After all, the bottom line is to generate millions of dollars a day, in order for these massive hotels to meet their daily overhead costs. 

But don’t start worrying over the mega corporations just yet.

Highrollers may not be rolling in like they use to, but they still are out there.
In fact, they are a lot richer then before. And let’s not forget about the countless high-stake poker games drawing thousands of spectators across the world, generating millions of dollars during each tournament. Adding more millions of revenue are the popular nightlife, streaming with electronic music and dance mania showcasing DJ celebrities, such as Tiësto. On top of that, the wealthy few are still looking for the most luxurious comfort to suit their lifestyle. With money not being an issue, Vegas resorts are eager to please their VIP guests in anyway they can.


The Mirage ,Las Vegas Photo Credit: Bari Demers
But, for us it’s a different story all together. I’m talking about regular folks like you and me. 

The ones who have worked hard for ever penny, scrimping enough money together, just to go on their yearly vacation. Yes, that’s you and me. We’re the ones who usually dream about, what it’s like not to worry about money and be treated like the glorified rich, we constantly hear about on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s you and me that look forward to a little luxury when we can afford it. It’s you and me who shop for the best possible price to stretch our dollar just a little bit more. We may not own that Mercedes or that $23 million dollar mansion, but we still love to experience a small piece of luxury to make us feel good and important, once in awhile. And Las Vegas allows us that opportunity, making us feel like a King or Queen, even if it’s just a day or weekend. 

Vegas today is just as exciting as it was 40 years ago, but even though the younger generation may have heard of Vintage Vegas, they never really had the opportunity to experience it. So, since it’s Throwback Thursday, let me reflex with you what it was like back then.

Join me in my Time Machine, as I take you back to the 1980’s.

During the 1980’s gambling was the heart of Las Vegas. It was a time when the Mafia still had its claws firmly into the casino business, skimming hundreds of thousands of hard cold cash. But, it was also a time, when the FBI was slowly gaining control over the countless illegal tax evasions. 

To you and me, Vegas back then, meant an oasis in the desert and a vacation paradise, giving more bang for your buck. Where a Prime Rib dinner only cost you $4.95, Steak and Eggs $2.99 after midnight, 0.99 cent breakfasts and bar drinks were only 0.50 cents a shot. 

Yes. Those were the days! 

Coming down the elevator to the casino floor of your hotel, the doors would open, and you would instantly hear the clanging of change hitting the slot trays, along with bells and whistles across the casino floor.

The excitement was in the air! 

You would always hear of not one, but many cheering after they hit the jackpot. The thought of winning was always on everyone’s mind. Imagine seeing rows of people lining up to cash-in, holding small buckets full of hard cold cash. As a matter of fact, some patrons were precariously hanging onto five to six buckets at a time, grinning from ear to ear. And their hands were caked silver from handling the coins they so eagerly scooped up into the buckets. Today, you won’t hear that clang, clang, clang sound of countless coins hitting the trays below, or a flock of people heading home after a winning spree.   People are still winning, but nothing like before.   And the rush of winning was like nothing you ever experienced before. It literally makes you feel good, waiting to come back next year for more. 

And the best part? 

The casinos really didn’t mind at all. They were raking in the cash so fast, it was hard to count it all. The loose change you thought were winnings to you, were merely a business marketing plan. The casino very well knew, you would would be back to try your hand at blackjack, poker or roulette. 

And the word of winning in Vegas was like a wild fire!

You would tell your friends and they would tell theirs and so on. Before you knew it, your winning spree was over exaggerated by a hundred times. Even farmer Joe decided to try his hand at blackjack.

Vegas back then was a whirlwind of pure excitement. 

Today, Las Vegas has grown into a corporate business of shareholders, only interested in the bottom line. They need to feed these hungry mega resorts with lots and lots of money, in order to stay afloat. The need for add on revenue, such as resort fees and paid parking has lead many to believe Vegas is gouging the basic consumers.  
But really, it’s the cost of a changing market. 

In Vegas, my weekly spending may seem high, until I go back home and realize the resorts on my own turf are selling their rooms from $350 to $950 per night!  Yikes!  That’s a little steep for me. As a matter of fact, that’s a whole a lot of cash for just one night stay, wouldn’t you say? So, in the end, Las Vegas is still the place to go to enjoy a reasonable priced vacation.

What’s your historical memory of Vegas ? 

The 1980’s was over 36 years ago. What this means to us; my wife and I celebrated our first anniversary at the Maxim, Las Vegas. We arrived in August of that year, three months before the horrific fire at the former MGM Grand (now Bally’s, Las Vegas). Apparently the Maxim hotel pool deck we lounged at was the same place Maxim employees watch the fire across the street. 


The Venetian, Las Vegas Photo Credit : Bari Demers
Soon we will be celebrating our 37 anniversary and once again, Las Vegas will be our choice.  You might say we are Vegas Lovers! 

By Bari Demers – freelance writer and screenwriter 

ARIA Resort – Inside and Out


Aria Resort & Casino Photo Credit : Bari Demers
ARIA Resort and Casino was part of a 9 billion dollar joint project by MGM International and Dubai World (Infinity World Development) in building CityCenter, a multi-resort complex in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.  

CityCenter consists of a set of luxury resort hotels and condos, starting with ARIA Resort, Vdara, the Veer Twin Towers, Mandarin Oriental, The Crystals (a high-end shopping facility) and The Harmon, built from 2006 – 2009. However, during the financial recession everything came to abrupt halt in the beginning of 2009, as financiers scrambled to raise more monies to complete the project.  

The drastic drop in shares had an considerable impact on its completion, including the increasing construction costs. 

Not only that, the workers union went on strike because they accused the contractor of not practicing safety measures after six men died during construction of CityCenter. After a three step safety resolution was reached, construction continued at a rate of completing one floor ever seven days. 


2nd Floor ARIA Resort Photo Credit : Bari Demers
Fortunately the overall project was completed, with ARIA Resort officially opening up on Dec 16, 2009.  

Architect firm, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, masterminded the ARIA creation with precision and artistic design. You can find all about the construction of ARIA Resort HERE, but I’m going to talk about ARIA from an architectural draftsmanship point of view, as well as a tourist, who had the opportunity to experience first-hand the luxury during the summer of 2014. 


Aria Resort Photo Credit : Bari Demers

Arriving in front of this massive two story adjoining hotel towering at 600 ft with over 4000 rooms, featuring concave baby-blue glass throughout its 61 stories, made me smile ear to ear. Right there and then, I knew I picked the right Vegas resort for our five day vacation. Immediately stepping out of the limo I was spellbound by the cascading waterfall along its slanted walls, giving this calming effect.  


ARIA Resort Wall Waterfall Photo Credit : Bari Demers
It felt like my level of stress simply dissolved into thin air, soothing my soul.


ARIA Resort, Las Vegas – Night Photo Credit : Bari Demers
Months before arriving I had purchased the Express Check-In and Late Check-Out option, which cost an extra $30 (plus tax) each.  

It was well worth it. 

Today, you can skip the line by using their Mobile Check-In service, with your cell phone. The Late Check-Out option is best by contacting concierge for any special requests, like I did. 


ARIA King size Room Photo Credit : Bari Demers
ARIA Resort is indeed at the height of technology, including cutting edged room convenience controlling the lighting, TV, the wall length curtains, “Do Not Disturb” options, room service and temperature control.  

It’s the power of luxury at your finger tips.  

Our room was on the sixteenth floor overlooking the pool courtyard below.  The view was simply amazing !  


Aria Resort – Overlooking Pool Courtyard Photo Credit: Bari Demers

In addition, our pool experience was as expected. Greeted with a warm welcome throughout, from the bartender to guest services at the entrance kiosk (also referred to as the security desk). You felt safe and well pampered by the professional staff. Of course, the three designed pools and one jacuzzi were exactly what you needed, when waking up first thing in the morning.  


ARIA Resort Poolside Photo Credit : Bari Demers
Our slumbering arrival poolside, before 8:30 am was considered early, in respect to our late hours the night before (or should I say early morning). Making the best of our time, exercising FUN in Vegas was essential to our stay. Besides, it’s nice to get a great spot before it becomes busy. Mind you, ARIA does offer the option of reserving your spot for an extra $25, if you like. That way, you don’t have to worry or rush around.


Pool Courtyard, ARIA Resort, Las Vegas Photo Credit: Bari Demers
After all, you are on holidays! 


Poolside at ARIA Resort Photo Credit : Bari Demers

Everything we did at ARIA Resort was a pleasant experience, from the casino to the art cleverly displayed. Enjoying the Fitness & Spa and partaking in the buffets, fine dining and the Five50 Pizza Bar, filled our expectations. When we ordered out a full “Gotham” (pepperoni, sausage, salami, mozzarella and Grana Padano) large pizza pie (costing $28) it was clear, the 550 degrees wood-fired oven that makes a big difference in the taste of your pizza.


Pool Bar ARIA Resort, Vegas Photo Credit : Bari Demers
Taking photos was not only a part of my experience, it was also the opportunity to share with others the FUN at ARIA Resort and Casino. 



The Convention Center at ARIA Resort Photo Credit : Bari Demers
One of my young careers as an architectural draftsman, I was impressed by the design features implemented by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. The two curvilinear glass towers, the sloping linear three story Convention Center, the carefully placed rooms on each floor (allowing each with its own spectacular view) and overall property layout, is indeed a working technological design with a stunning artistic flair, sure to impress anyone. 


Aria Resort Convention Center Photo Credit : Bari Demers
ARIA Resort is without a doubt, the place to be pampered on your next visit to Las Vegas. You only live once, so it’s best to get out and enjoy your life as much as you can, while you’re still healthy. 


16th Flr – ARIA Resort King Room Photo Credit : Bari Demers
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ARIA Resort Convention Center, Las Vegas by Bari Demers
By Bari Demers – Vegas Lover since the 80’s, screenwriter and freelance writer


ARIA Resort & Casino Photo Credit : Bari Demers

Vegas Reviews – Where the Fun never stops! 


Caesars Palace Photo Credit : Bari Demers
Vegas Reviews has been around since the 1980’s with its goal to help newcomers enjoy their vacation without being overwhelmed or disappointed with their experiences. In the beginning, Vegas Reviews was more concerned about REVIEWS with resorts, then anything else. But times have changed.

Fast forward 30 years.

Vegas Reviews first showcased Las Vegas on its Facebook Page in April 2010. In the beginning, entering Facebook, we were still concerned in the good, the bad and ugly reviews, showcasing reviews for and from our viewers.  

But, as we went along, we realized it was senseless to compete with large corporate companies, such as Trip Advisor, who also provided viewers the option to shout out their reviews, from hotel resorts to vacation packages, worldwide. We just are NOT a big corporation; either are we a company.  

Vegas Reviews is simply a community for VEGAS LOVERS.


The Bellagio Fountains Photo Credit : Bari Demers
Today, Vegas Reviews has grown into what we like to be called as, VEGAS LOVERS, where the FUN never stops. But, we are still concerned for anyone visiting Las Vegas for the first time, so they won’t walk away disappointed.  

Seriously, Vegas is a great vacation spot, but you still have to take steps to plan ahead and know what you can afford. Gambling in the casinos may sound like a win-win situation, but really, the only ones winning in the casinos are the Vegas Resorts. If you go into it knowing, the money you play in the casinos are for recreational purposes only, then you won’t leave disappointed. In other words, YOU are well aware there’s a slim chance of winning, and it was a fun recreational experience.  

If by chance you do win ?

Treat your winnings only as a bonus, nothing more. Professional card players may differer with me, but for the average vacationer, winners are far and few in-between. So, if you do win? Go out and splurge on a Grand Canyon helicopter Tour or treat yourself to fine dining at your favourite restaurant, or maybe take in a show you normally couldn’t afford. Whatever you decide, go and enjoy the rare bonus money.


Aria Resort – overlooking pool from room Photo Credit : Bari Demers
As said, planning ahead is an important step.

The next time you’re planning your Vegas vacation package from 2 – 5 days, just realize the extra taxes and resort fees are added to each day of your stay.  

It all adds up.

If the initial cost per night of only $45 at your resort may sound to good to be true? Well, it is. After adding the resort fees (depending on each resort) and state taxes, the average room charge is more likely to start around $85 to $149 per night, for an average room. And, if you are staying over on Friday and Saturday (most busiest time) expect to triple that cost.

Also, any upgrades are a substantial extra cost per night.  

For example : Our stay at Caesars Palace Resort started off at a reasonable price of $95 per night, but because we stayed during the weekend, our cost on Friday and Saturday jumped to another $450 per night. Also, we upgraded to an additional cost from Monday to Thursday. In fact, our room was more like $165 per night.

So, just be aware. 

If you plan a budget before going on any vacation, you won’t be disappointed by the extra costs. The overall average cost for Canadians on a five day stay (including airfare, food, transfers from hotel to airport) in Las Vegas will cost you from $2500 – $4500. For Americans it’s a lot cheaper, depending on which state they’re coming from. The average cost for Americans (no flight) will be from $950 – $2500 for the same five days.

But, it’s rare Americans will stay for 5 days.

Most Americans will spend a weekend, or at the most, four days in Las Vegas, taking advantage of the cheaper quick vacation options, allowing them more frequent trips to Vegas throughout the year.

Most Canadians don’t have that choice.

The average Canadian will stay 3 – 4 days from a Sunday to Monday, to help cut down the costs of their overall trip. And, 95% of Canadians will fly via travel packages with their airlines. Canadians are very lucky if they visit Vegas twice a year. 
Americans, on the other hand will zip down to Vegas for a couple of days, several times a year, because they can.

I’ve seen some Vegas party oriented fans stay only for two days, bragging about their lavish stay at the Cosmopolitan, overlooking a beautiful scenery of the Bellagio Fountains. What they don’t tell you, it cost them $360 – $600 per night. Not including taxes, food and drinks. 

So, it’s important to place everything into perspective, your lifestyle to what you can REALLY afford. Las Vegas Resorts have great offers, like free rooms, buffets and shows, but just be “buyer aware”. 


Aria Resort – Poolside Photo Credit : Bari Demers
 Always plan ahead.

Vegas Reviews will still give reviews, but only when they had a good time. In other words, if their hotel happened to be a bad experience ?  

Well, it’s simply really. 

Vegas Reviews won’t mention it or write about them. After all, we are looking for the best possible time in Vegas. We are VEGAS LOVERS having FUN in Vegas !  
Join us on Facebook and please check out our website. Did you have a wonderful time in Las Vegas ? Please, by all means, tell us. 

By Bari Demers 


Photo Credit by my friend Romeo Durscher
About Vegas Reviews:

Vegas Reviews is not associated with any corporation, Vegas Resort or hotel. Either are we affiliated with them. No one pays us for any of our reviews. 

We are simply VEGAS LOVERS on Facebook page featuring only about the fun we had in Vegas.

When we do find a wonderful stay in Vegas, I like to write about the fun we had, from the rooms, the buffets to the entertainment. Check out our FUN review with Bellagio,  The Venetian, Las Vegas,  or the magnificent Aria Resort and Casino, Las Vegas. These are only a few, so join us for updates! 
See YOU in Vegas